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How to Use Rapid Antigen Tests for COVID-19

by: Adam Singfield
May 24, 2023


The information provided below is for informational purposes only. It is not professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or care, nor is it intended to be a substitute therefore. If you are a health care professional, then this information is shared with you on the express condition that you will use your own expertise and professional judgment in applying any information to a specific case. This is general information only, the validity of which may be affected by individual patient factors that are unknown to the author(s). It is the responsibility of those using this information to ensure appropriate interpretation and application is undertaken with regard to any specific clinical situation.

How to Use Rapid Antigen Tests for COVID-19

Rapid COVID tests are cost-effective and easy to administer. Follow these steps to learn how to use rapid antigen tests for COVID-19.

Total Time Needed: 20 minutes

Required Tools:

– A rapid antigen test kit
– Personal protective equipment (recommended)
– A watch or timer

Things Needed?

– A designated plastic zipper bag
– A garbage to safely dispose of the swab and test kit

Steps to use a rapid antigen test kit

Step 1: Remove packaging and prepare for testing

Put on your PPE and be sure to have ample space for the items in the test kit as you remove them from the packaging:

  • sterile swab
  • extraction buffer tube
  • test cassette reader

Step 2: Collect the nasal sample

Insert the sterile swab into the nostril with the most secretion. While rotating the swab, insert the swab 2 cm (slightly less than 1 inch) parallel to the palate (not upwards) towards the throat into the nostril until resistance is met at turbinates. Do not apply pressure.

Rotate the swab 4 times for about 15 seconds against the nasal wall and remove it from the nostril.

Repeat with the same swab in the other nostril.

Note: Samples must be collected from both nostrils using the same swab.
Step 3: Add drops of buffer to tube

Depending on the make/model of rapid antigen test you’re using, the buffer may already be in the tube. If it is, skip this and go to Step 4.

If your tube is empty, add 10 drops of buffer liquid into the tube.

Step 4: Insert swab into extraction buffer tube
Insert the swab into an extraction buffer tube. While squeezing the buffer tube, stir the swab more than 10 times.

Step 5: Remove the swab while squeezing

Remove the swab while squeezing the sides of the tube to extract the liquid from the swab.

WARNING! Failure to squeeze the tube can lead to incorrect results due to excess buffer in the swab.


Step 6: Add the nozzle to the buffer tube

Depending on the test make/model, the nozzle may be a screw cap or need to be pushed to snap close.

add nozzle to buffer tube

Step 7: Apply sample drops from buffer tube to test cassette

Place the test device on a flat surface and apply 3-5 drops of the extracted sample at a 90º angle to the specimen well of the test device.

add sample drops to test cassette
Step 8: Wait 15 minutes

Wait 15-30 minutes and then read the test result within this time frame.

Step 9: Read the test results

A colored line appears in the top section of the result window to show that the test is working properly. This is the control line (C). Even if the control line is faint, the test should be considered to have been performed properly. If no control line is visible the test is invalid.

In case of a positive result, a colored line appears in the lower section of the result window. This is the test line (T). Even if the test line is very faint or not uniform, the test result should be interpreted as a positive result.


Video Demo – How to Use Rapid Antigen Tests for COVID

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